Month forty one started with travel but most of the month was spent in Denver, working and living a regular life – I know, it’s shocking!
I started the month with two nights left on our Utah National Parks road trip, where we visited Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks before deciding to shorten the trip by a few days because the weather had been cold and rainy, and motels were getting expensive due to it being Memorial Day Weekend.
It was great to get back to Denver and see everyone, and during my first week back I ate out a lot, visited some of my favorite places like Olde Town Arvada and Golden, and saw family at a Colorado Rockies game and at a birthday at my Auntie’s place.
Then I started with my month of housesits, as well as starting the Whole 30 – a very restrictive 30 day diet where you can’t have any sugar, alcohol, dairy or grains. After a couple of months of bad eating, I wanted to reset, and I also wanted to see if I had any food sensitivities as once you start introducing things back into your diet, you can find out if you have any reactions to anything.
It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be and I haven’t had any really bad cravings that have tempted me to cheat. It has been hard to eat out though so I have kept that to a minimum.
As soon as I got back to Denver I started applying for jobs and I managed to get a temping role through an agency very quickly, and have been working for the past two weeks!
It has been nice to have some routine and stability in my life again, even if just for a few months, because I was starting to feel a bit worn down from all the travel. There is something to be said for having a routine and I am enjoying it for now. It is also really nice to be making some money after only making enough to scrape by during the last year.
This round up may not be super exciting but even full time travelers need to stop and catch their breaths every once in a while.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: USA
- Utah: Fruita, Hatch, Panguitch, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Hanksville
- Colorado: Grand Junction, Denver, Brighton
National Parks and Monuments Visited: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park
Islands Visited: No islands this month
Best Meal: Highlights this month included the berry pie from the Gifford Homestead in Fruita in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah; the smoked chicken with homemade cornbread and honey butter, veggies and mac and cheese at Duke’s Slickrock Grill in Hanksville, Utah; the fantastic New York style pizza slices from Famous Original J’s at the 715 Club in Denver; and the Jamaican Jerk chicken burger with pineapple and fries from Birdcall in Denver.
As far as new recipes I tried since starting Whole 30, I loved the chicken tenders with roasted red pepper sauce, roast lemon and garlic chicken and potatoes, bun-less pineapple chicken burgers, and salmon and vegetable fish cakes. I will definitely continue to make all of these dishes once my Whole 30 is over.
Worst Meal: Nothing bad this month although I was a little disappointed in my pineapple and olive pizza from Hops and Pie in Denver – the pineapple had no sweetness to it whatsoever.
Best Craft Beer: I haven’t been allowed to drink beer for most of the month (boo!), but I did have a couple of great beers before I started the Whole 30. I loved the Sippin’ Pretty Fruited Sour from O’dell Brewing and the Tangerine Cream Ale from Station 26 Brewing Company – both great Denver beers.
- Queen’s Garden Trail and Sunrise Point to Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 2.8 miles/4.5km return
- Capitol Gorge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 3 miles/5km return
- Grand Wash Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 4.4 miles/7km return
- South Mountain and Castle Rock loop trail in Golden, Colorado 4.5 miles/7.25km
- Section of Clear Creek trail in Wheat Ridge, Colorado 2 miles/3.25km return
- Sloans Lake loop trail in Edgewater, Colorado 2.6 miles/4.2km
- Vail Riverwalk in Vail, Colorado 2 miles/3.25km return
- Section of Clear Creek Trail in Denver, Colorado 2 miles/3.25km return
- Evergreen Lake loop trail in Evergreen, Colorado 1.4 miles/2.25km
- Clear Creek Trail and section of Chumney Gulch trail in Golden, Colorado 2.5 miles/4km
Reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I still have a little bit to read in this book but I am absolutely loving it – it’s the best thing I have read in a really long time.
The book follows Theo Decker from a traumatic bombing he experienced when he was a kid and in which he lost his mother, through to his adult life. He has a big secret that he can’t tell anyone – he took a valuable painting from the art gallery where the bombing happened – and this secret shapes the path in life he ends up taking. Incredible writing, incredible character development and a bombshell plot.
Watching: The OA. Although it was such a long time between seasons and it took me a while to remember what the hell was going on, I still really enjoyed season two of the OA.
This Sci-Fi/Supernatural series follows a group of people that have learnt how to hop to different dimensions, and the evil doctor who will do anything to learn how to control the dimensional hops. He is probably my most hated villain in anything I have watched in a while – partly because he actually believes he is doing the things he does for the greater good.
I also loved the second season of the Brit comedy White Gold – based around the cut-throat world of window sales in 1980s Essex, England. If you loved The Inbetweeners, you will love White Gold – it stars two of the stars of The Inbetweeners: Joe Thomas (Simon) and James Buckley (Jay) and it is damn hilarious.
Hiking in a Couple of Utah National Parks
Although we didn’t get to return to as many of the Utah National Parks that we had planned to because of the chilly and rainy weather, the hikes we did in Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park were awesome – as was the always impressive drive through Zion National Park.
In Bryce, I did the Queen’s Garden Trail, and although it was a bit cloudy, the scenery was stunning – this spectacular park wowed me just as much on my third visit as it did on my first.
In Capitol Reef we did the Capitol Gorge trail which was an interesting one as this rocky trail used to be a road! I loved the old graffiti carved into the rocks as well as the Pioneer register. We also did the Grand Wash trail – the Grand Wash was thought to be where Butch Cassidy had a hideout.
It may not have gone to plan but it was still a lovely short trip.
Going to my First Colorado Rockies Game
Those that know me well know that I am not really one for sports, but I have been wanting to see the Colorado teams – the Colorado Rockies, the Broncos, and the Avalanche – play on their home turf for a while, and this month I got to go to see the Rockies play the Baltimore Orioles.
We went for Toby’s Godson Sebastian’s birthday, and it was fun to hang out with everyone in the bar area, watching the game from far above. For me it is more about the atmosphere of being at live sports rather than seriously watching it so it was a fun one.
Reunited with my American Family
It is so great to be back in Denver, especially because we haven’t seen Toby’s family for ages, other than a quick visit for my Mother-in-law’s wedding in mid-April.
In the last few weeks since we got back we have been to a family BBQ, Sebastian’s birthday at the Rockies game, dinner at my mother-in-law’s place, my cousin-in-law Ticia’s birthday at a spa followed by Top Golf, along with hanging out with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law when we stayed with them for a few nights and at my cousin-in-law Nate’s place.
I’m looking forward to more family time this summer.
A Morning in Vail
When I found out I was going to have to get up at 6am to take Toby the 90 minutes to Vail for work I wasn’t happy, but once I dropped him off I went for a long walk along the river, then sat in the sun on a rock and watched the world go by – it turned out to be a beautiful morning in the mountains and totally worth getting up extra early for.
Returning to my Beloved Golden
My favorite place in Denver is actually just out of the city – the small mountain town of Golden, Colorado. I was lucky enough to get a three and a half week sit in Golden so I have been out hiking with the dog I am looking after, working in cafes, visiting the farmers market and more during my time here. It is such a lovely little town and it has been amazing to be based here – if only for a little while.
Enjoying Lots of Kitty Time
It has been all about the kitty love this month. When we got back to Denver we stayed with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for a few nights and it was so nice to see their gorgeous kitties Milo and Millie, then I have been looking after two lovely older black kitties – Xenia and Whale Boy – in Golden and they have been a delight, especially Xenia who sleeps with me every night.
A couple of my friends also got kitties in the past year and I finally got to meet Ink and Aza this month – both of who are absolutely precious.
A month full of kitty time is always going to be a great month for me.
Getting a Job
I didn’t expect to get a job so quickly when I got back to Denver, but it only ended up taking two weeks from arriving back till starting work at a temping job for a Software Company in the city. I got it through an agency and they expect it to last for one – three months, depending on how long the woman I am covering is on long-term sick leave. Who knows – it might end up being even longer.
The office is great, the people are nice and the job itself – although not super exciting – is not bad. The best bit is that I can work remotely, and last week I only went into the office two days out of five, choosing to work from home the rest of the week.
Having this freedom is incredible for a temping job, and I have already planned a week in New Mexico in July, visiting my father-in-law and returning to some of my favorite places like Ojo Caliente, Taos and Santa Fe.
Here’s hoping this job lasts right through until I leave in November.
Getting our First Paid Housesits
We have been housesitting now for over three years and have always done it for free through Trusted Housesitters. When we got back to Denver we decided to sign up for Rover which is a paid dog-sitting site, and we already have two paid sits lined up!
Originally we were going to find a month to month apartment sublet but we haven’t had much luck with that (there are so many scams!) and now we are actually kinda glad the sublet plan didn’t work out, because so far the paid housesits we have lined up will pay for the gaps where we need to get an airbnb – through till the middle of August anyway, which means for at least the next two months we don’t have to worry about or pay for accommodation!
Hopefully this will continue and we will get more Rover bookings for the second half of summer too.
Getting into a Routine
You know, after being nomadic for four years now (!), little things that I used to take for granted from my pre-nomadic life are really exciting to me now – like having a routine for more than just a week or two when we are housesitting.
Even though we will still be moving around a lot in Denver, between housesits and airbnbs, we will otherwise be living a more regular life this summer, where we are working more, not traveling much, cooking more and spending more time with friends and family.
We have been back in Denver for nearly a month now and I am loving being able to cook and exercise with some regularity, and I’m feeling great for it. I know that routine can feel boring – but believe me, when it isn’t your norm you can absolutely crave it, and I am definitely getting my fix right now.
Driving the Lariat Loop to Evergreen
I have wanted to drive the Lariat Loop scenic route that links Golden, Evergreen and Morrison for a while now and I finally did it this month, with a furry companion. Me and Odesza, the dog I am looking after in Golden, drove the loop to Evergreen, where we visited the cute downtown and walked around the lake before getting rained on.
The Lariat Loop had stunning views over Golden and the surrounding mountains and it was a fun one to drive – I like pretending I’m a rally car driver on curving mountain roads like that.
Evergreen is a lovely little mountain town and it really felt to me like we were much deeper into the mountains, rather than just a 20 minute drive from Golden.
Brunch with Like-Minded Travelers
I went to a Wanderful Women Denver brunch last weekend and it was so fun to talk travel – my favorite topic – with a group of friendly and like-minded ladies. And brunch is always a good time, even if I’m not allowed to drink at the moment because I’m on Whole 30.
I got some great budget travel tips as well as contributing my own. I’m looking forward to the next one.
Cold Weather on our Utah Road Trip
The unseasonably cold weather I had in New York last month followed me to Vegas and then Utah unfortunately. We had planned to take around a week to ten days to drive back to Denver from Las Vegas, free-camping and visiting National Parks along the way – but the weather had other plans.
It was too cold to camp and the weather definitely wasn’t great for hiking, so we ended up only taking three nights to get back because we just got over it really fast.
We have visited all the Utah parks before so it wasn’t the worst thing ever but I had been looking forward to revisiting them all and doing some new hikes and we only ended up making it to two – well three if you count driving through Zion.
Oh well, there will always be a next time.
I have spent more than half of this month alone as it is Toby’s busy season for work, and it did get to me, although I’m doing much better now. I really started to feel quite lonely, and I still do a little bit, although I have had a couple of events I have gone to in the past two weeks as well as going into the office which definitely helped the situation.
The last couple of years I was still in New Zealand at this time of year so it wasn’t an issue as I had my friends and family there, while I don’t know as many people in Denver, and everyone I do has their own busy lives.
Oh well, Toby will be around more from next month.
Spring Weather During Summer in Colorado
The cold weather has continued into my time in Colorado. Denver may not be getting snow like they are in the mountains right now, but it has been unseasonably cold and a lot of thunder storms have been rolling in.
It would usually be topping between 90 – 100 degrees at this time of year but we haven’t even hit 90 yet. Where are you summer? I miss you.
This is a bit higher than I expected it to be considering I have been in Denver for most of the month, but it’s not too bad. For the next few months while we are mostly staying put, I am aiming for my monthly spends to be between $1000 – $1200, although I do have some expensive van costs coming up next month.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of two nights in motels – one night in Panguitch, Utah and one night in Grand Junction, Colorado.
For the rest of the month, I spent seven nights staying with friends and family in Denver, six nights at a housesit in Highlands Square, Denver and 16 nights at a housesit in Golden, Colorado.
Food and Drink $690
I ate out a fair bit for the first week of the month then started the Whole 30, which meant my grocery bill was a lot higher than usual, although I hardly ate out so I think it pretty much balanced out. Would like to see this figure go down to around $500 a month while I am staying in Denver.
- 2 x summer tops $34
- Gas $72
- Denver Lightrail $12
- Hot Stone Massage $130
- 3 x Books $7.50
- Toiletries $28
- Gifts $92.50
- Phone $40
- Reusable Drink Bottle $14
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van Costs $0
Luckily Casper behaved himself this month, but next month we need to get the engine checked (the light has been on for a while) and we have to pay for registration for the year – fingers crossed the fix won’t be too pricey!
What’s in Store for Next Month
Month Forty Nine will be a pretty quiet one now that I have a job. We have a couple of different paid housesitting gigs lined up with a couple of short airbnb stays to fill the gaps.
When I’m not working I am hoping to get some hiking in, and to drink lots of amazing Colorado beer and eat all the things I have been missing while I have been doing Whole 30 (my last day is June 30!)
We will be going down to New Mexico for a week where we will spend the first weekend hopefully going to the PowWow in Taos and maybe somewhere new like Tent Rocks, then I will be working out of cafes or a co-working space for the week days in Santa Fe. I definitely want to hit up Ojo Caliente for a soak one evening too – love that place!
I do need to drop Toby at the airport in Albuquerque for him to fly out to his next event so I am hoping to see a bit more of the city on that day as I haven’t done a lot in Albuquerque before.
On the way back up to Denver I am planning to spend a night at a new National Park to me – Great Sand Dunes – and a night at Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista so I am looking forward to a little solo Colorado adventure.
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here